Towards a century at the heart of Connacht rugby

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Mens U20s Mid-Season Update

Our challenging opening qualification campaign resulted in a narrow 31-29 loss to local city rivals Corinthians, meaning we unfortunately missed out on securing a spot in the JP Fanagan Premier 2 competition.

However, under the leadership of Captain Brian McHugo and Co-Captain Jack Quinn, our squad has demonstrated remarkable resilience and gone from strength to strength.

We started our league campaign by winning our first 5 league games in JP Flanagan Premier 3 consecutively. Notable features were dominant performances that included holding both Malahide and Coolmine to 0 tries against us.

Despite facing numerous injuries in key positions, our team exhibited great character and depth with players stepping up to play out of position.

The only setback in the first half of the league has been a narrow 24-19 defeat to Blackrock, a match where either team could have emerged victorious.

As we approach the Christmas break and halfway point in the league, we find ourselves only 3 points behind Blackrock in the standing thanks to bonus points earned. We are firmly in contention for the top spot in the New Year.

Anticipation is high for our upcoming rematch against Blackrock. Throughout the season, we have delivered an exciting brand of rugby, scoring an impressive 224 points over 6 games.

We aim to continue our style in 2024 when we face Naas away in our first fixture on January 14th.

Club Constitution Information Evening on Feb 8th 2024

Galwegians RFC (“the Club”)  is presently an unincorporated association.  It operates under a constitution which provides that the property of the Club shall be held by the Trustees of the Club. The present constitution provides that the Trustees “shall be not  less than two and not more than five in number”.

Presently, there are three  Trustees namely Peter Crowley,  Michael Deacy and Billy Glynn.  These Trustees have acted diligently on behalf of the Club for many years and two of them now wish to retire.

For liability and other reasons it is more appropriate that any unincorporated association, such as the Club, would operate as a corporate structure.   The present Board of Management of the Club propose that the Club should move in this direction.

This would mean that the present structure would be wound up,  that a company limited by guarantee would be formed and that this company will take over the operations, activities, assets and liabilities of the Club.

It is proposed to hold an information evening in relation to this proposed change on  Thursday 8 February 2024 at 8 p.m. in Crowley Park with a view to holding a Special General Meeting (“SGM”) some weeks later for the purpose of moving to a corporate structure. 

The matters to be dealt with at the SGM would be:

  1. The approval of a new corporate constitution.
  2. Authorisation to immediately incorporate a new company limited by guarantee.
  3. The dissolution of the present Club structure
  4. The transfer of the operations, activities, membership, assets and liabilities of the Club to the new corporate entity.

All members are invited to attend the information evening on Thursday 8 February 2024 to discuss this extremely important step for the future of the Club.

Draft new constitution is available for viewing and download below.

Galwegians RFC – 100 Years of Rugby History book launch

Galwegians RFC formally launched their centenary book publication ‘Galwegians RFC – 100 Years of Rugby History’ at the clubhouse in Crowley Park on Thursday Dec. 7th.

A huge crowd of past & present Galwegians, friends and invited guests and dignitaries were present to witness the culmination of over 3 years’ work.

As part of their centenary celebrations, the club committee decided to document their history and commissioned well-known Galway-based rugby author Linley MacKenzie to write the book. Designed and printed by local company iSupply, it features almost 200 pages. It vividly captures the club’s history from its foundation in 1922 through to present day, with numerous stories, recollections and photographs featuring many of the club’s key personalities. 

Many of the local public representatives were present at the event, including Mayor of Galway city Councillor Eddie Hoare who addressed the audience, commending Galwegians on their history, their contribution to the sporting and social fabric of Galway city and the quality of the book’s publication.

Master of ceremonies, Galwegians President Erc Dunne, also introduced the author Linley MacKenzie, who spoke about her experience of writing the book and researching the club’s rich history. The book was then formally launched by Galwegians Trustee Michael Deacy, a long-serving life member, past President and a member of one of the club’s most influential families.

Galwegians RFC – 100 Years of Rugby History is available to purchase at:

  • Clubhouse in Crowley Park, Glenina
  • Whelan’s CarePlus Pharmacy, Williamsgate St., Galway
  • 0Dangan Nurseries, Newcastle Rd, Galway
  • Online with worldwide postage via  https://tinyurl.com/WegiansHistoryBook

More details including Table of Contents and excerpts are in the History section of the club website.

Centenary Book excerpt 4 – The King and I

As IRFU president in 1968/69 and a chief dignitary at the Five Nations in Cardiff, Chris Crowley was seated beside Prince Charles, now HM King Charles III, at the fixture against Wales.

It was at a time when Cardiff Arms Park’s new east stand was still in its construction stage. The Irish team was on a high, brimming with confidence. Having played seven internationals in succession without being beaten – six wins and one draw, Ireland were favourites in March 1969.  Only Wales stood between Ireland and the Triple Crown.

Arriving at the Seabank Hotel Portcawl, the Irish party headquarters, it was discovered the Irish captain, before leaving Cork, had received a strange telephone message from a London-based rugby journalist, that apparently the Welsh team had worked out some devious plan, not entirely within the Laws of the Game, to cut the Irish party down to size.

Tom Kiernan did not give much credence to it, but Chris believed a new tension seemed to developing in the entire Irish party, while there was an increased determination to win this match among the players. 

The two teams had togged out in temporary dressing rooms, and the Welsh Rugby Union’s arrangements required that the Prince, escorted by the two Union presidents, Chris Crowley and Ivor Jones, would walk across from the east side to the centre of the pitch where the two teams were lined up in the usual way. 

Chris recalls hearing a lot of booing all around the ground as they walked out – and jokingly whispered to Jones, was it him [Jones] or Chris they were booing – what was it about?  Jones whispered back “fiercely”. “Shut your bloody mouth Chris. He’ll hear you [meaning the prince].”

He recalls another odd occurrence as Prince Charles walked along the two lines shaking hands with the players, one of whom was the Welsh sub hooker Norman Gale. Gale stood with both hands deep in his pockets.

“As the prince came to him, he (Gale) slowly and apparently reluctantly dragged one hand out his pocket and half held it out to be shaken.  

“Then I was intrigued to hear the Prince say: ‘Oh, you’re not playing, you’re just a reserve.’

 “I thought Gale lost out in the little demonstration of bad manners.”

 

Centenary Book excerpt 3 – Warren Gatland

“By the time I am finished with you, you are going to play like you’ve never played before.” 

Warren Gatland

True to his first words in Glenina, Warren Gatland brought Galwegians to a new level, into the All Ireland League, and playing some of the most memorable and innovative rugby in Ireland.

Not only coach on the field, he was a manager too, and from an “a la carte attitude to training”, he introduced a fine system to ensure discipline in the team and required numbers at training. Off the field, it was a case of walk like a duck, be a duck. With all members required to wear shirt, tie and jumpers, Galwegians began to look like what they were training to be.

It resonated with the players and Jody Green, who saw Gatland as an “All Black”.

“He never struck me as a 26-years-old – he always came across as someone who was an All Black and a fantastic coach who was doing something for us that we had never had before. All the building blocks were being put in place by him as both manager and a coach. All the things they take for granted now, we were introduced to them for the first time by him.”

Quiet by nature, Gatland never raised his voice. There was no banging tables, but his teaching skills were evident in ensuring the messages were received loud and clear in his own way.

Although he had not set any goals on arrival, he did establish objectives – nothing too phenomenal – to make training more enjoyable and educational, to implement clear calls and moves that every player understood, to promote individual players by playing quality rugby and being successful – and the fourth, and the most crucial, was to set team rules. All players had to turn up at training and on time, and would only be absent with prior permission.

He made them work hard and taught self discipline – the Hennie Muller drill, named after a South African player, was a well known form of torture – figures of eight round the pitch, and timed. It was all about self-discipline, honesty both on the pitch and in training. If a player cut a corner or went inside the flag, Gatland would always ask at the end if anyone cut the corner. However it also made it enjoyable.

On one occasion after the question was asked, he followed up with, anyone not get a shift last night? Shane Guerin put his hand up, followed by brother Enda,

“I’m with you bro.” So the two were told to do another lap as a result. Halfway around the pitch, they realised the entire squad was rolling around on the ground in stitches.

He also introduced a fine system, but it would pay for the pints after matches – a celebration or bonding session on Saturday night was all part of the building blocks.

“Fast forward to Gatland’s Lions v All Blacks,” says O’Donnell. “The Lions are under pressure going into the last match, but Gatland takes the squad for a day out, a few beers and a sing-song, where everyone had to sing a song from their own country – that was Gatty back in Galwegians.”

In addition to his attention to detail, he was an innovator and a thinker – and few forget his 15-man line-out, while also carrying that further in the scrum and driving maul, where backs could join it. That too was perfected with practice on the pitch – ensuring each player knew how to join legally. Such thinking was ahead of its time, and few teams initially had it figured out.

Green remembers travelling to St Mary’s which had been a bogey team for Galwegians.

On one occasion when taking a hammering, hooker Ciaran Fitzgerald had taken a conversion just for laughs, but on the next occasion under Gatland, it was the Glenina side that prevailed after taking them apart with their rolling maul.

Meticulous in its planning, everyone was tutored how and where they could join it, and where to put their shoulder, and cleverly, Gatland took time to have conversations with referees, basically telling them what was going to happen – in accordance with the rules – so his innovative practices would not take them by surprise.

Brian O’Donnell, playing outhalf on one occasion, recalls the armchair ride he was given as a result.

“The referee was Alan Lewis, and I remember him saying ‘this is actually beautiful’ as I was walking along with him, and bringing the centres with me.”

Centenary Book excerpt 2 – Losing the lid

A letter sent to the Galwegians committee in the early 1950s:

Dear Mr Costello,

I am writing about the top of the Senior Cup which has been missing for some weeks now.

This cup was brought in from T Richardson’s digs for the dinner on Saturday night May 3. It was left in the office afterwards and there it remained for some weeks.

One evening about three weeks ago I met Gerry in Dominick Street and he asked me what I did with the top of it. This was a surprise to me as I had no recollection of removing the lid and the only thing I could conclude was that if I did, I must have been well gone.

He said he would make enquiries. Since then Tim Richardson has also made an investigation without result.

It was a pity the matter was let slide for so long without letting me know, and now we have no option but to notify the Guards. When they call I’d be obliged if you would produce all members of your staff who saw me removing the lid and give full information as to where I took it and where I was last seen with it.

It must be found before the end of the month as otherwise I’ll have to be making arrangements to have it replaced.

I’ll hardly report this matter until Saturday the fourth, and in the meanwhile I would appreciate if you have an exhaustive search made of our entire premises. After all, there is no proof that I didn’t leave it back, if I took it, and that somebody else removed it subsequently.

Yours faithfully,

Mr. X

To find out the identity of Mr. X, and whether the lid was ever found, get ready to order your advance copy of our book. This will available very soon to buy online.

Centenary Book excerpt 1 – St Paul to the Corinthians

CP Crowley always referred to himself as a dyed-in-the-wool Galwegian, and as the years went by he was asked by Jimmy Lydon of Corinthians to write a few lines about the friendly rivalry which had existed down through the years between Glenina and the “fellas down the road”.

Crowley imagined what Jimmy had in mind was that, having been around the general rugby scene in Galway city for more than 40 years, he would have many stories to tell concerning the two clubs, and of course there were any amount of happenings  – many of them hilarious, on and off the field . However, looking back down the years, what struck Chris was the similarity rather than the differences in the histories of Galwegians and Corinthians.  

Both played on the same Sportsground for years, and their headquarters were hotels. Both clubs realised about the same time that the Sportsground had become untenable for two senior clubs and neither could continue to muddle along without a clubhouse of its own. When they did eventually move out, one chose Glenina, and the other Ard na Cregg.

Chris also remembers one Sunday morning in the Augustinian Church when a new slant on their sameness was emphasised from an entirely unexpected quarter – Father Anderson, who was renowned as a particularly forceful preacher. 

His text on the morning in question was one of those angry letters Saint Paul wrote to the Corinthians – and according to Chris, there was a good scatter of members from both clubs in the congregation.

He remembers the preacher, eyes flashing, voice reverberating throughout the church, threatening Corinthians with all sorts of fire and brimstone unless they quit messing, and of course the Galwegians among the congregation sat back and smiled benignly at each other.  

According to Chris, as Fr Anderson reached his “peroration”, he paused for a long minute, glaring theatrically around the church, his piercing gaze seeming to home in on each individual on the benches. It was obvious he was heading towards his punchline and there was not a pin dropped….

To hear the punchline, make sure to order your advance copy of the book when it is released for sale shortly.

Get to know Jack Winters

Where are you from?

Cong Co. Mayo (Born in New York)

When started playing rugby?

Ballinrobe RFC from minis up to captaining the first team.

When first joined Galwegians? 

In 2010, I played U19s for Galwegians (see photo above). I then played Senior in 2017-18 for the season and fully rejoined after being away travelling and after Covid in 2021.

Tell us about your family? 

I’m the eldest of five. My parents and Hazel are in Cong, Leila is in Perth, Neil and Grace are in San Francisco.

What is your career outside rugby? 

I am a Packaging Engineer in Zimmer Biomet, Oranmore.

What positions do you play? 

Loosehead prop. I was a backrow until an injury crisis at the beginning of last season. Anything for the team!

Biggest influence on career? 

My parents and fiancée Niamh have been there for all the highs and lows. 

Toughest opponent ever? 

Paul Hackett in a “non-contact” drill.

Best team-mate ever played with? 

Delighted to have my former Ballinrobe teammate, Rob Holian, join us this season from Sligo RFC.

Hobbies? 

I love to travel, we are hoping to do a safari in Tanzania for our honeymoon next year.

Favourite band/music? 

Christy Moore

What does being club captain mean to you? 

It is an incredible honour to captain such a historic club, filled with fantastic people from our minis, underage, mens and womens sides to all the volunteers and coaches who make it possible. I strongly believe the tide is turning and the good times are coming back to Galwegians!

Hopes or aspirations for the year? 

I’m very excited to see what this group of players can achieve at both Senior and Junior level this season. Our goal is promotion on both fronts!

Youth Academy Awards 2023

A wonderful night of prize giving for our youth Girls and Boys teams last evening.

The awards were presented by our special guest of honour Hugh Gavin who was a member of the Ireland U20 Grand Slam winning team. Hugh started rugby in Galwegians at 5 years of age, and played senior rugby for the club this season in between training and appearing for Connacht Eagles and the Ireland U20’s.

Club President Frank Kinneen presented Hugh with a trophy from the club in honour of his achievement, and Youth rugby director Mickey Sherlock presented a framed photo to Hugh.

Frank and Hugh also presented the awards to all our youth players and to club person of the Year and U14 team manager Eileen Kenny.

Award winners are:

U13 Boys

  • Player of the Year Rory Bourke & Dylan Mc Cullough
  • Club person of Year Wilem Cahill
  • Most Improved Player MJ O’Reilly

U14 Boys

  • Player of the Year Ethan White
  • Club person of Year James Sharkey
  • Most Improved Player Tom Wallace

U14 Girls

  • Player of the Year Meabh Grennan
  • Club person of Year Kianna Mulhall
  • Most Improved Player Katie Lawless

U15 Boys

  • Player of the Year Conor O’Reilly
  • Club person of Year Cillian Hosty
  • Most Improved Player Charlie Garavan

U16 Boys

  • Player of the Year Rob Bradley
  • Club person of Year Rory Wilson
  • Most Improved Player Rory Kelliher

U17 Boys

  • Player of the Year Paul Sharkey
  • Club person of Year Conor Gibbs
  • Most Improved Player Mathew Harty

U18 .5 Boys

  • Player of the Year Harry Lynch
  • Club person of Year Hernando Calleja
  • Most Improved Player Tom Ryan

U18 Girls

  • Player of the Year Megan Connolly
  • Club person of Year Rebecca Hastings
  • Most Improved Player Dominika Matula

Kieran “Dint” Downey hits 50 AIL Caps

By Ciarán Ó Flaithearta

Kieran Downey

Zoom opened and Dint sat before me on my computer screen, baby Airlaith on his knee, which even though I have trained with him for the past two seasons and knew he was a dad it was still a little weird for me to see him holding a baby instead of a rugby ball.  Let’s look into who our club captain Kieran Downey is, as he marks his 50th AIL cap for the club this weekend.

Kieran Downey grew up in the southwest village of Knocknagoshel, Co. Kerry, like most areas of Kerry a football stronghold. After watching the Six Nations on the telly one-year Dint decided he wanted to pick up the oval ball aswell as the round one to play with Castleisland rugby club “I started playing there as an eight-year-old and I haven’t really stopped since”.  

By the age of 16, he had won a Munster U16 title and reached an All Ireland semi-final with Castleisland where they were narrowly beaten in the Sports Ground “which was massive at the time for our club being just a Junior club and to be playing against the likes of big clubs like Buccaneers and to run them that close in an All Ireland semi-final was massive”. Dint went on to play Junior with Castleisland where he also captained that team “as a younger fella”. He played his first years in the AIL with both Kanturk and then Bruff while also making appearances at provincial level for Munster Under 18s and later on the Munster juniors for four years.

While playing rugby in college Dint earned his nickname, after a reoccurring cut caused a dent to form on the bridge of his “The boys in college started calling me ‘Dint’ and it just stuck from there. I know it’s a dent but it’s the way your man used to say it sounded like ‘Dint’,”

Dint moved to Galway with his partner in 2018 after building a house and getting jobs in the county, as so his journey with Galwegians began.

Dint had still been playing with Castleisland and Bruff when he moved to Galway but after training twice with Wegians, Beano asked if he would play against Nenagh the following weekend “I said yes, I didn’t really need to think about it”.

When asked to recall his first cap he responded with a laugh “oh I got sin-binned, and Abdulaq and I made our debut the same day.” He went on to play the next 4 games that season. The following season he signed over fully to the Galwegians and he’s played every game since, claiming the number eight jersey and in 2021/22 season he was asked by Ja to be captain, “and this year I wasn’t even asked I think they just assumed”.

Dint has come a long way since first pulling on the blue jersey in 2019 with the chance this Saturday to make his 50thappearance for the club vs Wanderers for Dint “it happened fairly quickly,…it’s a big mile stone, when you play one or two it’s a novelty but anymore than that your focus changes,.. but any big milestone like that is special”.

 Since making his debut in 2019 he’s had some memorable moments on the pitch, some of his least favourite being last years relegation battle “and any time we lose a derby to Corinthians is a poor moment even as an outsider”. But there have been some special ones too in the mix despite the latest result vs Enniscorthy the game before the Christmas break stood out to him “any day you score seven tries is a special one”, Dint having scored two of the seven himself, but a win vs Dungannon in 2019 stands out.“Dungannon away in 2019, its so hard to go up north and win away, we beat them quite convincingly, we actually kept them scoreless at home against a team from Ulster is very difficult to do, so that has to be one of my favourite moments”.

With all that now behind him Dint looks towards this weekend vs Wanderers “it’s about getting the points this weekend against Wanderers and then trying to take points away from Greystones and get ourselves up and running after the disappointing result last weekend”.

With 50 caps under his belt Dint is well and truly a Galwegian for him and he shows that through his leadership on and off the pitch and understanding what it means to be a Galwegian “Like the club song says it’s all about the show”.

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